For hundreds of years, the gold-rich lands of western Africa have attracted explorers. merchants and investors from across the world. In colonial times, the region was even known as the Gold Coast, and to this day Ghana is the second largest gold producer in Africa.
Now, more than 60 years after independence, the Ghanaian mining industry is starting on a journey of transformation that is set to turn the country into a major refiner of gold products as well as a leading producer of the metal. It is a journey which promises to reduce Ghana’s exposure to volatile commodity prices, grow new downstream industries, increase export revenues, and create far more jobs for Ghanaians than the mines alone, which are capital-intensive but which employ relatively few people.
“There can be no future prosperity for our people in the short, medium or long term if we continue to maintain economic structures which are dependent on the production and export of raw materials. We must add value to these resources and we must industrialize,” President Nana Akufo-Addo advocated last year. “Raw material producing economies do not create prosperity for the masses.”
unless we industrialize with the goal of adding significant value to our primary products, we cannot create the necessary numbers of high paying jobs that will enhance the living standards of the mass of our people. The way to that goal, the goal of assuring access to prosperity, is value additive activities in a transformed and a diversified modern economy.
Operating on the front line of the campaign to diversify the gold sector and industrialize the economy is the $110 million Gold Coast Refinery Ghana, or GCR. The plant, which began commercial operations in 2017, is the largest refinery in West Africa and the second largest in the entire continent, with the capacity to refine 180 tons of gold per year to the highest quality grades.
“As the 10th largest producer of gold in the world, it is only logical that Ghana should have its own modern y old refinery,” says Dr. Said Deraz, the chairman of Gold Coast Refinery. “Our major objective is to provide the country with a refinery that enables it to add value to the major raw material it produces · gold. This fits into the government’s own agenda of adding value to its raw materials and industrializing the economy.” A subsidiary of the Euroget Group from Egypt, and strategically located at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, the refinery will create 300 direct and 1,200 indirect jobs when running at full capacity.
Our major objective is to provide the country with a refinery that enables it to add value to the major raw material it produces – gold. This fits into the government’s own agenda of adding value to its raw materials and industrializing the economy.
Dr. Said Deraz
Chairman of GCR
The brand new refinery is currently focused on certifying its procedures for the most demanding international and local accreditations, hallmarks and certifications. At the site, GCR has introduced into Ghana state-of-the-art technologies for refining gold chemically and using electrolysis, and it has already installed its own gold bar-making machines. These initial investments have created significant opportunities for innovative high-technology jobs for local employees, Deraz says. our staff are very excited by this chance to enhance their skills. They are embracing the innovations and new technologies that we are bringing to Ghana.
As well as adding value to Ghana’s natural resources, GCR also aims to raise standards in the industry by sourcing gold from responsible small producers as well as from large mines.
At a time when the administration of President Akufo-Addo has cracked down on illegal and environmentally damaging small-scale gold mining (or ‘galamsey’) and has tightened up licensing procedures, GCR’s role as a reputable in-country buyer will help professionalize gold production across Ghana. In the longer term, the refinery could also process gold from across the metal-rich West African region.
For now, GCR is focused on embedding world-class processes at its refinery, increasing its capacity utilisation rate, and striking supply agreements with large operators within the country as they ramp up their own operations in Ghana. Among multinationals increasing their investments in the country, Newmont Mining Corporation is currently building a new underground mine at its Ahafo operations, while Gold Fields is extending the life of its Damang operation.
Even more promisingly, AngloGold Ashanti CEO Srinivasan Venkatakr ishnan has spoken of a “positive tailwind” in Ghana and said the mining giant may redevelop its massive Obuasi mine, creating yet another source of possible production to help grow Ghana’s all-new refining sector. “We are bringing to Ghana all the modern processes and procedures needed for gold refining,” Deraz says.
“We are hopeful that we will win the regulatory and policy support of the Ghanaian government and the commercial support of the international players in the market. On the government side, plans for refining bauxite are being discussed, understanding the importance of adding value to Ghana’s natural resources. in December 2017, at the African roundtable on mobilizing support and accelerating the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Vice President Bawumia spoke of the moves to establish a bauxite refinery ” Our goal is to have an aluminum refinery in Ghana possibly by 2019.There is a clear goal that the President has set… We already have all aluminum smeller and a bauxite mine, we just need a refinery, and then we will see value addition to our minerals”.
Ghana is finally ready to refine its gold and other metals.